Sant Jordi’s Day, April 23rd, is a very important date in Catalonia. The key elements of this day, dedicated to the patron saint, are culture and love, represented by the book and the rose.
The streets of all of the cities and all of the towns in Catalonia are full of flower and book stalls and of people eager to give the rose and the book to their love ones.
Not only the lovers celebrate this day, but parents and their children give each other a book or a rose, that is why you will be able to see whole families strolling down the streets in search of a beautiful rose or of the chosen book for their little ones. Wherever you maybe, do not miss the chance to walk along the main avenue or street and get to live the experience, you’ll love it.
The most popular books, the best sellers, along with the most personal and less commercial ones will have a privileged spot this day. Walking down the avenue will be a real pleasure and you will have the chance to discover new proposals that will fill your hours with the most delightful reading.
Readers will also have the opportunity to exchange impressions with the novelists, or get them to sign the newly acquired book.
Red roses are the must, even though little by little, roses of all colors have been gaining some space. Wrapped in paper, in cellophane or garnished with every detail, filling baskets and tables while decorating the cities and waiting to be delivered to a loving heart.
Origin of the Day:
The origin of Sant Jordi’s Day comes from centuries ago. The story tells that Sant Jordi, a knight under Diocletian’s orders, refused to persecute the Christians as ordered, and was therefore martyred and killed. This stoiry is not romantic at all, isn’t it?
The reality is that so venerated was the saint, that fantastic stories linked to him soon began to appear . (keep on reading, we will tell you some more about it later).
During the XVth century in the city of Barcelona, there was a special day when roses where sold in the streets. All the young men that were willing to get married would buy a rose for their fiances.
Can we consider this as the origin of giving away roses, who knows? However, the tradition is so that nowadays the florists estimate to make 40% of annual sales of roses on April 23rd, surprising, isn’t it?
That may be the origin of giving away roses, but what about books? It seems that during International Exhibition of 1929 celebrated in Barcelona , book sellers decided install books stalls in the city streets in order to to publicize new releases . As years went by, it was decided to join this idea of selling books with the one of selling roses and make them coincide on April 23rd.
As a matter of interest, lets mention that in 1996, the Unesco declared Sant Jordi Day as the International Book Day.
For the most romantic ones: The Legend of Sant Jordi
The Legend of Sant Jordi says that the people of Montblanc were being devastated by a terrible dragon, the inhabitants, together with their cattle, were devoured. To appease the hunger of the beast, every day they offered him a maid. The day came when the king’s daughter was the one to be given away, and then was when a knight named Jordi, faced the fearsome dragon defeating him and ending the terrible fate of the inhabitants of Montblanc.
It is said that from the spilled dragon’s blood a beautiful rosebush of red flowers was born and after that, the brave knight then wrote a poem to his beloved princess.
For gastronomy lovers:
Year after year, new gastronomic proposals are launched.We will highlight the most popular ones, but take into account there are many others you may walk into.
Sant Jordi’s bread: an original alternative to the usual bread. It includes “sobrasada” in its recipe giving it a pleasant flavour and a colorful appearance. The baker alternates the bread dough with the red sobrasada mixture and as a result, when cutting the bread loaf we will find the 4 stripes of the Catalan flag. In some cases, the baker adds some nuts to the recipe making it extra delicious. You will only find this delicate proposal in the Catalan bakeries only on April 23rd so do not miss it.
Sant Jordi’s Cake : If you prefer a sweeter option, choose Sant Jordi’s cake, a rectangular sponge cake made of thin layers of soft and delicious mixture emulating a book.
As you can see, April 23 is a day full of magic, culture and love. Do not miss the opportunity to live it at least once in a life time , come and enjoy it!